Turkeys are intelligent animals who can recognize hundreds of other turkeys. Joe Hutto, a former turkey hunter, wrote a book (Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkeys) about his experience living with a flock of turkeys which then became a television documentary on PBS. He says:
As we leave the confines of my language and culture, these graceful creatures become in every way my superiors. More alert, sensitive, and aware, they are vastly more conscious than I. They are in many ways, in fact, simply more intelligent. Theirs is an intricate aptitude, a clear distillation of purpose and design that is beyond my ability to comprehend.
When you pet a turkey, you will be surprised at how soft they are. Each of these animals have their own personality: friendly, sassy, inquisitive. They like to stick together and explore the fields at Safe Haven. Despite their friendly and inquisitive ways, each Thanksgiving, millions of turkeys are slaughtered for holiday feasts. Most have lived in crowded, filthy sheds with no windows for 3-4 months before being slaughtered.
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Abby is the youngest of our turkeys. She arrived in the summer of 2016 at approximately a week old. Abby was one of 4 baby turkeys that arrived by car. These babies sadly had many health issues. Despite several trips to the vet for medication and treatment, two of the babies passed away after just a few months. Abby and her friend Calvin survived. Calvin only lived to be a year old leaving Abby as the sole survivor. The lesson from this is the early killing and mass reproduction and crowding that these turkeys undergo leads to illnesses and congenital problems.
These issues become widespread in the flock given they only have to live to about 4 months of age before being slaughtered. The babies who are sick with congenital disease or infections acquired early in their lives are simply thrown out and there is no effort made to diagnose illnesses that could be treated. They are simply eliminated and discarded from the flock. Abby is an ambassador for all the turkey babies who are born into terrible conditions and are not rescued from the terrifying and horrible few months of life they have to live on factory farms. We are so happy to have her as part of our farm family. She is an adventurous and curious girl who loves exploring. She has blossomed into quite the beauty!
Emma celebrated her 10th birthday in 2018! Since she came to us at 10 weeks of age in the middle of a freezing November, 2008, she has always been the friendliest, gentlest turkey imaginable. When she was able to keep herself warm in a big area with heat lamps and straw at bedtime, she moved into the main barn where she could watch the goings on and go out to the pasture to enjoy the cool breezes. Because of her gentle ways, visitors, especially children, have always been drawn to Emma. She has given many people their first opportunity, not only to see that she endured a cut off beak and toes in preparation for a short life on a factory farm, but also to feel her soft feathers, look into her deep dark eyes and wrap their arms around her for a hug.
Turkeys raised on factory farms for food are slaughtered at about 4 months of age and those who make it to a sanctuary usually live 2-3 years, so we are so grateful for Emma’s presence in our barn where we can greet her with love every morning! Emma doesn’t move around as much as she used to but she especially enjoys basking in the sun at the entrance of her barn and she continues to welcome hugs from staff, volunteers and visitors. She is an ambassador for the millions of turkeys who are slaughtered every year after enduring life under horrible and inhumane conditions.
Trinity is a petite cutie who arrived in August 2014 with another baby turkey named Jenny. They were two of about 20 turkeys left in a box at the entrance to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. They were most likely rescued from a turkey farm since their feathers were all white and they had had their beaks cut to prevent them from pecking and injuring the skin of the other turkeys in their crowded sheds. At first Trinity was somewhat shy and spent her time following Jenny around. Unfortunately, Jenny developed liver failure and, despite lots of visits to the vet, passed away when she was about 18 months old.
Soon after, Trinity became more outgoing, checking out visitors to the barn to be sure they would be nice to her fellow turkeys and the other residents of her barn. If Trinity decides you are not a threat to her friends, she will quickly go back to whatever she was doing before, scratching in the dirt or taking a sunbath or just enjoying the day in the pasture. However, if she is suspicious of you, she will ask you to leave the barn and not stop until you exit. Fortunately, she seems to accept most humans she meets but she is definitely very protective of her fellow residents.